Media Hits & Misses

Oh, C’mon, Just Say It! Why Can’t Journalists State The Obvious?

  “Sometimes things are exactly as they appear.” By Mike Lofgren Common Dreams (8/2/18) According to an Annenberg survey, only a quarter of Americans can correctly name the three branches of the federal government. Is that sad fact, like the weather, something that just happens, beyond anyone’s control? Or does something make Americans resistant to the most elementary information? Could the manner in which that information is conveyed to them be so needlessly complex and hedged that people just give up and prefer blissful ignorance? We have seen this phenomenon on display in the way in which the mainstream media hem…

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There Is Far More At Stake In Wikileaks Showdown Than Julian Assange’s Fate

  The issues transcend whether you like Assange or not. [Editor’s Note: Julian Assange is a prickly, controversial and not all that nice of a guy. Putting aside one’s personal feelings about him, the Assange case raises huge issues for the future of a free press. This is a much-needed discussion of the issues involved. — Mark L. Taylor] By Peter B. Collins Who.What.Why (6/24/18) As Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, visits London, reports indicate he is about to withdraw asylum for Julian Assange, exposing the WikiLeaks founder to eventual extradition to the United States to face charges under the Espionage…


Missing The Story: Climate Change Is Behind Global Heat Wave. So Why Won’t The Media Say So?

The science is clear. Journalists need to start using it. By Leah C. Stokes The Los Angeles Times (7/15/18) Last week’s heat wave brought record temperatures to Southern California. Hot winds blew fire into my community in Santa Barbara County, ripping through a dozen homes and threatening hundreds more. I tuned into the local news channel, where reporters reminded viewers that we had just finished a record-breaking fire season. They strained to list all the fires we’d had over the past decade. There were too many to recall. Fires are happening a lot more often across California. You can’t accurately…


The Media Have Been Targeted For Violence Since The Beginning Of The Republic

  By Harold Holzer History News Network (7/3/18) Sadly, there is nothing new—or even newsworthy—about violence against American newspapers. The recent, deadly attack on the Annapolis Capital Gazette is merely the latest of the lamentable episodes, scattered through our history, in which aggrieved parties take out frustrations on “the media.” Such assaults began only two years after ratification of the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of the press. Most were triggered by political animus. In 1793, pro-Federalist Boston editor Benjamin Russell spat in the face of pro-Democratic editor Benjamin Austin, Jr. The transgression cost Russell a twenty-shilling fine, but did little to chill…


America’s Love Affair With The Centrifugal Bumble Puppy

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. “Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied…


Legendary Investigative Reporter Seymour Hersh: Media Today Must Cover Yemen & Trump Policy, Not Get Distracted by Tweets

  Democracy Now! (6/20/18) “Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News,” President Trump tweeted last week, in his latest attack on the nation’s press. A week earlier, federal prosecutors revealed they had secretly captured years’ worth of phone and email data from journalist Ali Watkins, who broke several high-profile stories related to the Senate Intelligence Committee. A former top aide on the committee, James Wolfe, has been charged with lying to the FBI about his contacts with the press. Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders recently dropped the United States to number 45 in its annual ranking of press freedom. When the group…


Most Journalists Missed The Significance & Threat Of The Rise Of Mussolini & Hitler

Warning: Reports on the rise of fascism in Europe were not the American media’s finest hour. By John Broich The Conversation (12/11/16) How to report on a fascist? How to cover the rise of a political leader who’s left a paper trail of anti-constitutionalism, racism and the encouragement of violence? Does the press take the position that its subject acts outside the norms of society? Or does it take the position that someone who wins a fair election is by definition “normal,” because his leadership reflects the will of the people? These are the questions that confronted the U.S. press…


Censorship: Editorial Cartoonist Critical Of Trump Fired From Pittsburgh Newspaper

  Rob Rogers had been with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 25 years. By Lydia O’Connor HuffPost (6/14/18) A veteran editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was fired Thursday after he and the newspaper’s management clashed over some sketches critical of President Donald Trump. Rob Rogers, a Pulitzer Prize finalist who had been with the Post-Gazette for 25 years, announced his own ouster on Twitter. Earlier this month, he’d revealed that he was working through “unresolved” issues with the paper’s leaders over certain cartoons that they’d declined to publish. A broader push for less negative Trump coverage in the paper has been linked to John…


Sy Hersh On All The Victims Of America’s War Culture

“Some will claim that I have attempted to exploit some dumb, out of service, overly talkative G.I.s. But few men are exposed to charges of murder… it is not a “naming names and telling all affair.” In fact, one of the strengths is that discriminating readers will know how much more I know — and did not tell. I’m convinced that to give the name and hometown of a G.I. who committed rape and murder that day, or one who beheaded an infant, would not further the aim of the book. It is an exposé, but not of the men…


How A Ragtag Group Of Socialist Filmmakers Produced One Of The Most Viral Campaign Ads Of 2018

  [Editor’s Note: There has long been a need for a cadre of innovative video and internet tech savvy progressives to counter the big money self-serving campaign consultants that turn so many democratic campaigns into desiccated cookie-cutter hack jobs. This story shows the power of Tech + Passion = Powerful Messaging. — Mark L. Taylor] By Zaid Jilani The Intercept (6/5/18) BRONX ACTIVIST AND community organizer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is challenging longtime New York Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in his primary on June 26. By all measures, the former Bernie Sanders organizeris an underdog, going up against the powerful chair of the House Democratic…


Seymour Hersh On CIA Spies, State Secrets, And The Stories He Doesn’t Tell

“The capacity to do stupid fucking things in America is just fucking scary.”  By Elon Green Columian Journalism Review (6/4/18) When a reporter has covered 50 years of American foreign policy disasters, the last great untold story may be his own. That, more or less, is the premise behind a new memoir by Seymour Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been revealing secrets and atrocities—and often secret atrocities—to great acclaim since he exposed the My Lai Massacre in 1969. Hersh’s book, economically titled Reporter, is focused on the work. “I don’t want anybody reporting about my private life,” he once said, and Hersh abides…


Investigative Report: Baltimore Cops On A Crime Spree

  The Center For Investigative Reporting (6/2/18) Baltimore’s police department was already notorious. But this year, eight former police officers were convicted on federal racketeering charges stemming from an FBI investigation. They belonged to an elite task force charged with getting guns off the city’s streets. Instead, the plainclothes cops roamed Baltimore neighborhoods at will, robbing people on the street, breaking into homes to steal money, drugs or guns and planting evidence on their victims. The targets of the Gun Trace Task Force included drug dealers and ordinary citizens. One of its favorite tactics was to speed toward a group…


Investigative Journalist Seymour Hersh’s Memoir Is Full Of Useful Reporting Secrets & Lessons For Citizens

  By Matt Taibbi Rolling Stone (5/1/18) Late in his new memoir, Reporter, muckraking legend Seymour Hersh recounts an episode from a story he wrote for the New Yorker in 1999, about the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. Bill Clinton was believed to be preparing a pardon for Pollard. This infuriated the rank and file of the intelligence community, who now wanted the press to know just what Pollard had stolen and why letting him free would be, in their eyes, an outrage. “Soon after I began asking questions,” Hersh writes, “I was invited by a senior intelligence official to come have a chat at…


Be Alert! Trump’s Primary Tactic Of Defining Deviancy Downward Is Designed To Leave You Feeling Exhausted, Numb & Inactive

“In 1993, New York’s Democratic senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a former social scientist, made an incisive observation: Humans have a limited ability to cope with people behaving in ways that depart from shared standards. When unwritten rules are violated over and over, Moynihan observed, societies have a tendency to “define deviancy down” — to shift the standard. What was once seen as abnormal becomes normal. “Moynihan applies this insight, controversially, to America’s growing social tolerance for single-parent families, high murder rates, and mental illness. Today it can be applied to American democracy. Although political deviance — the violation of unwritten…


Destruction Of The Independent Press: A Conversation On The Destruction Of American Media Between Chris Hedges & Mark Crispin Miller

  “I think what we have seen over the decades since the mid-’70s, and I’m going to make a provocative comparison here, is something analogous to what the Nazis called gleichschaltung, which means streamlining.” By Emily Wells Truth Dig (4/27/18) In a recent episode of “On Contact,” his video series on the RT network, Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges speaks with Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of media studies at New York University, about the destruction of the independent press in the United States. Hedges calls attention to the algorithms of Facebook, Google and Twitter, and how they steer traffic away from anti-war and…


“Handout Hannity”: Trump’s Fox News Bro Faces Questions Over $90 Million Real Estate Empire

Illustration by Seth L. Taylor, 2018.   By Charlie May Salon (4/23/18) Fox News host Sean Hannity is responding to the “latest fake news attack” against him, playing the victim to claim that he is being vilified for “investing my personal money in communities that badly need such investment.” Despite his frequent rants against liberal or media “elites,” an extensive report from The Guardian on Monday revealed that Hannity is linked to numerous shell companies that have spent at least $90 million on nearly 900 properties across the country. Furthermore, belying his supposed conservative principles, Hannity’s empire was purchased at a deep…


Supposedly Progressive MSNBC Ordered Ed Schultz Not To Cover Bernie Sanders, Then Fired Him

  “The fix was in.” (Editor’s Note: One of the greatest republican myths is the one about the “liberal media”. Mainstream corporate media is occupied territory and generally not open to progressive candidates or opinion. While there are individual stories and occasional glimmers of fairness, ultimately, when it comes to mainstream media there is only one interest: MONEY. — Mark L. Taylor) The Young Turks (4/19/18) Former MSNBC host Ed Schultz opened up in a recent interview about why he believes he was fired in 2015. Schultz, who’s now anchor of a show on RT, told National Review‘s Jamie Weinsteinthat…


The Orgy Porgy & Centrifugal Bumblepuppy: Amusing Our Selves To Death

  “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked…


Did Minnesota Public Radio Give Garrison Keillor’s Bad Behavior A Free Pass?

  By Laura Yuen & Euan Kerr MPR (4/18/18) On Nov. 2, Jon McTaggart, the CEO of Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media Group, posted an all-staff memo expressing his disgust and outrage over reports of an NPR news executive who sexually harassed women. The news of how NPR handled the allegations in Washington — a process that NPR’s top official admitted was slower and less forceful than it should have been — had rattled some of McTaggart’s employees in St. Paul. “I can tell you how the APM Group would address this kind of situation,” McTaggart wrote in the memo. “I…


This Episode Of ”The Empire Files” Has Been Blocked In 28 Countries: Max Blumenthal On Palestine’s Rebellion, Israel’s Brutal Fascism

  The Empire Files (11/13/15) Abby Martin interviews journalist and author Max Blumenthal on the current situation in Palestine and the Israeli occupation. This episode covers what is behind today’s rebellion, the rising dominance of far-right, ultra-racist ideology in Israel, eye-witness accounts of the aftermath of the Gaza war, and the Israeli government’s fear of Palestinian resistance. Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and author of the New York Times Best Seller “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel”, and the recently-published “The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.” Link to 28-Minute Video


Public Radio Show ‘MarketPlace’ Badly Bungles Postal Service Story

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (4/16/18) The Friday (4/13) broadcast of the public radio show “MarketPlace” included a report on the current controversy about the rates charged by the United States Postal Service for delivering Amazon orders. In a backhanded attack on the Washington Post for its excellent reporting on the Trump-Russia scandal, Donald Trump has been attacking Amazon for taking advantage of lower USPS rates. Both Amazon and the Washington Post are owned by many-multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos. Putting aside the Amazon issue, what I found troubling about the MarketPlace report was that it completely blew past the primary…


Sinclair TV Network Chairman Met With Trump During White House Visit

‘We are here to deliver your message. Period.’ By John Swaine The Guardian (4/10/18) The chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group met Donald Trump at the White House during a visit to pitch a potentially lucrative new product to administration officials, the Guardian has learned. David D Smith, whose company has been criticised for making its anchors read a script echoing Trump’s attacks on the media, said he briefed officials last year on a system that would enable authorities to broadcast direct to any American’s phone. “I just wanted them to be aware of the technology,” Smith said in an interview. He also recalled an…


Surveillance Capitalism: Google’s File On You Is 10 Times Bigger Than Facebook’s — Here’s How to View It

By Jake Anderson AntiMedia (4/9/18) (ANTIMEDIA) — With all the attention paid to Facebook in recent weeks over ‘data breaches’ and privacy violations (even though what happened with Cambridge Analytica is part of their standard business model), it’s easy to forget that there are four other Big Tech corporations collecting just as much — if not more — of our personal info. Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are all central players in “surveillance capitalism” and prey on our data. New reports suggest that Google may actually harvest ten times as much as Facebook. Curious about just how much of his data Google had, web…


Billionaires & Bytes: How Truth Lost Its Meaning In Trump’s America

“Right now there are no shared facts in America.” VICE News on HBO (3/30/18) In Trump’s America, half the population lives in a world where the “crooked media” tells “fake news” made up of “alternative facts,” while the other half fights to maintain public trust in traditional media. Much of this stems from the parallel online universe that led up to the 2016 election. Clinton and Trump supporters really don’t listen to each other on Twitter, according to an analysis from the Electome project at the MIT Media Lab provided exclusively to VICE News. “At least on Twitter, we see…


How America’s Largest Local TV Owner Turned Its News Anchors Into Soldiers In Trump’s War On The Media

Sinclair Broadcasting News Bot 2018 By Timothy Burke The Concourse/Deadspin (3/31/18) Earlier this month, CNN’s Brian Stelter broke the news that Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner or operator of nearly 200 television stations in the U.S., would be forcing its news anchors to record a promo about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.” The script, which parrots Donald Trump’s oft-declarations of developments negative to his presidency as “fake news,” brought upheaval to newsrooms already dismayed with Sinclair’s consistent interference to bring right-wing propaganda to local television broadcasts. You might remember Sinclair from its having been featured…


Mainstream Liberal Media Outlets Providing Platform For Usual List Of Hawks, Spooks & Professional Liars

  By Jeff Cohen Common Dreams (3/26/18) When the “War on Terror” was launched in 2001, mainstream media—especially cable TV news—started a parade. It was a narrow parade of hawkish retired military and intelligence brass promoting war as the response to the crime of 9/11, predicting success and identifying foreign enemies to attack. We can look back at this parade and laugh at the total nonsense dispensed. But the more human response is to cry—over the toll, still mounting, of hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond, and violent instability across the region, including countries…


The Facebook / Cambridge Analytica Threat: Big, If True

  On The Media/ WNYC 93/23/18) Cambridge Analytica claims that, with the help of 50 million Facebook users’ data, it was able to target ads so specifically and so effectively that it helped swing the election for Donald Trump. The media have been more than happy to boost the claim, but many experts are skeptical. This week, a look at what exactly went on with Cambridge Analytica and whether we shouldn’t be focusing more on Facebook. Plus, how social media works to undermine free will and what the future might hold for Facebook. 1. Antonio García Martínez, columnist at WIRED and former tech entrepreneur,…



VIDEO: Glenn Greenwald & James Risen Debate The Trump-Russia Investigations

Intercepted (2/21/18) JAMES RISEN AND GLENN GREENWALD have both won Pulitzer Prizes. They both have found themselves in the crosshairs of the U.S. government for their journalism. And they both write for The Intercept. But Jim and Glenn have taken very different approaches to covering the Trump/Russia story. In this one-hour special video edition of Intercepted, they go head-to-head in a debate. Glenn is one of the most high-profile critics of the official story bolstered by the U.S. intelligence community, the Democrats, and many media outlets, including some of this country’s most powerful papers and news channels. Jim battled both the Bush and…


Ex-Facebook President Sean Parker: Site Made To Exploit Human ‘Vulnerability’

  By Olivia Solon The Guardian (10/9/17) Facebook’s founders knew they were creating something addictive that exploited “a vulnerability in human psychology” from the outset, according to the company’s founding president Sean Parker. Parker, whose stake in Facebook made him a billionaire, criticized the social networking giant at an Axios event in Philadelphia this week. Now the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Parker was there to speak about advances in cancer therapies. However, he took the time to provide some insight into the early thinking at Facebook at a time when social media companies face intense scrutiny from…


Nunes Played The Press Like A Fiddle. Why Do Journalists Keep Falling For This Dumb Trick?

By Monika Bauerlein Mother Jones (2/3/18) It’s a weird feeling when your organization’s reporting ends up at the center of a scandal bordering on constitutional crisis. But things have been weird, and here we are: MoJo‘s October 2016 story about the Steele dossier is a key data point in the Nunes memo (though they couldn’t even get the date right—more on that later). That inclusion, and how it came to pass, tells us a lot about journalism, propaganda, and what democracy is up against. Let’s unpack that a bit. First, propaganda: Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Nunes episode is how effectively…


Dutch Reporters Offer Master Class To Limp White House Press Corps By Refusing To Let Trump Official Tell ‘Blatant Lies’

  By Julia Conley Common Dreams (1/11/18) Weeks after leaving a Dutch reporter stunned by denying that he’d made televised remarks about terrorism, several of the Netherlands’ political journalists refused to allow a Trump appointee to ignore their questions about the incident, demonstrating effective political journalism while many American news outlets are criticized for allowing elected officials to get away with blatant and repeated lies. Reporters at a press conference repeatedly asked Pete Hoekstra, the new U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, to comment on his remarks at a hearing in 2015. Hoekstra urged the press to move on from the issue, but to no…


Perverting The Language: How The Media Protects A Man Unfit For Office

  By Robert Reich Robert Reich’s Blog (1/12/18) Now that Trump has been president for almost a year, it’s time the media called his behavior for what it is rather than try to normalize it. Here are the six most misleading media euphemisms for conduct unbecoming a president: 1. Calling Trump’s tweets “presidential “statements” or “press releases.” “The President is the President of the United States, so they’re considered official statements by the President of the United States,” Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, said last June when asked during his daily briefing how his tweets should be characterized Wrong. Trump’s tweets are…


‘The Biggest Secret’ – James Risen On Life As NY Times Reporter In The Shadow Of The War On Terror

The crackdown on leaks only applied to low-level dissenters; top officials caught up in leak investigations, like former CIA Director David Petraeus, were still treated with kid gloves.   Democracy Now! (1/5/19) We spend the hour with former New York Times reporter James Risen, who left the paper in August to join The Intercept as senior national security correspondent. This week, he published a 15,000-word story headlined “The Biggest Secret: My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror.” The explosive piece describes his struggles to publish major national security stories in the…


Republicans Twist Language When They Say ‘Reforms’ But Really Mean ‘Cuts’

By Jared Bernstein The Washington Post (12/29/17) I have a simple request to journalists, columnist, pundits, and others writing about forthcoming efforts of Republicans to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the anti-poverty programs that make up our safety net. Call such efforts “cuts.” Do not call them “reforms,” “changes,” “overhauls,” “fixes,” “reshaping,” “modernizing,” or any other euphemism that could easily be misconstrued. At least, do not do so without also clearly defining what they really are, which is cuts. While D.C. insiders speak the unique creole of our swamp, there’s no reason to expect general readers to intuitively understand…


Lee Camp On ‘Redacted Tonight’ – What’s Not Being Reported About About NPR

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (1/1/18) In the eyes of many – especially on the left – National Public Radio has a shiny halo. Unfortunately, the truth falls short of cozy liberal assumptions. Redacted Tonight host Lee Camp gives a rollicking good rundown on NPR’s ties to corporate power and how those corporations bask in the “good guy” glow of being associated with NPR. The network has softened and developed a sizeable dose of  jello in its spine over the past ten years. While there will be the occasional tough interview and every once in a great,…


Destroying The Press: A Mysterious Company Bought LA Weekly And Just Gutted Its Staff

  By Lydia O’Connor The HuffPost (11/30/17) Free press advocates and LA Weekly staffers are demanding that the mysterious company that bought the news organization and gutted most of its staff reveal its identity. Semanal LLC, the secretive buyer that formed for the sole purpose of purchasing LA Weekly last month, closed on the sale Wednesday and promptly laid off nine of the 13 members of the alternative weekly’s editorial staff, sending shock waves across an industry already rattled by unexpected reductions and closures. On Thursday, the Society of Professional Journalists condemned Semanal’s continued anonymity. “In an era of rampant misinformation and…


So CBS Didn’t Know There Was Something Up With Charlie Rose? They Should Have Watched Their Damn Show

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (11/23/17) Years ago, in a previous career as a journalist, I worked for a feisty underdog newspaper, The Albuquerque Tribune. We were the afternoon paper and with half the staff fought a scrappy daily battle against the larger, locally-owned and much larger circulation Albuquerque Journal. The dramatic implosion of television journalist Charlie Rose this past week in a tawdry sexual harassment and abuse scandal had me thinking about those days, especially when I saw how CBS News reacted to the whole disaster. Pretty much every news cycle brought fresh allegations, going back years,…


America Is About To Kill The Open Internet And Small Town America Will Pay The High Price

  By Lucy Rock The Guardian (11/21/17) It’s Saturday morning at a café near the museum in Winlock, Washington, and Michelle Conrow is eating brunch while surfing the internet on her laptop. What might seem a banal activity for many is a luxury for Michelle. The internet at her house just outside the town is primitive by today’s standards, with speeds similar to the dial-up days of the 1990s. It took three days to download Microsoft Office to her new computer. Many of the 1,300 residents in this rural area, which was once the US’s second largest egg producer, report…


Orwellian: The Corporate Media’s Pathological Refusal To Report The Simple Truth About Trump’s Record Of Lies

“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.” – George Orwell   By Reed Richardson Fairness & Accuracy in Media (11/16/17) It is a truism to say that everyone lies to someone. Since public officials entrusted with power in our democracy are no exception to this human trait—as historical research documents—it should be exceedingly acceptable to point out that all politicians, from your local city council right up to the White House, lie as well. The Framers afforded the press special constitutional protection in large part to ensure that such lies would not…